Wow. That is usually the first word out of anyone’s mouth when they first set eyes on the Infiniti QX80. During that initial glance, it is clear that this vehicle is something different, particularly in terms of size. The QX80 is one of the biggest luxury SUVs on the market, but it is certainly not the least powerful. During our test drive around the Bajio region of Mexico, we put the QX80 through its paces, resulting in an unforgettable experience for both driver and passenger. It will be tough to go back to anything less than luxury after this.
In the Driving Seat
As soon as you take your position in the QX80, you feel like royalty. The sheer size of this vehicle means that you are perched above most other cars, even looking down upon some other SUVs. While this is a great feeling, for the most part, it can be tough to maneuver and park sometimes.
The interiors are super high-quality, with lush, cream leather extended throughout each of the three rows of comfortable seats. The adjustable, electric driving seat memorizes the previous driving position, and automatically moves forward or backward to give you enough room to enter or exit the car – this is as close as it comes to having an on-board chauffeur. Cooled seating is a welcome feature too, especially in Mexico’s climate, but after a few hours of usage it suffers from a heat source that emanates warmth from beneath the seat, almost negating the cool experience. It is difficult to say whether this is the power unit for the cooling system, or simply overuse of the engine, but it could have been addressed by Infiniti before launch. Even so, this minuscule oversight does nothing to detract from the feeling of being in this car – it is like rolling around in a luxury sitting room.
Ride & Performance
Take one look at the QX80 and you would be forgiven for thinking that this hulking fusion of beauty and beast is incapable of performing well, but this is a prime example of not judging a book by its cover. Despite its size, the QX80 is light, responsive, and amazingly fun to drive. When absent of too many passengers or cargo, the vehicle has immense accelerating power, speeding you ahead of the pack when conditions demand it.
Even while the V8 engine is powering you toward your destination, you barely even notice it is there thanks to the noise reducing cabin, and vibration is virtually unnoticeable. In spite of all these positives, there is one negative: the suspension. It is a real shame that such perfect performance is hampered by less-than-perfect suspension, configured to be much too stiff to be able to keep the cabin stable on uneven roads. This is perhaps related to the huge rims, leaving room only for thinner tires, which seems like a strange choice for such a massive car. While this is only a minor con, and while it can easily be attributed to personal preference, it left this reviewer with a slightly bad aftertaste that followed an otherwise impeccable meal.
The QX80 is utterly packed with gizmos and gadgets. The Bose speaker system with 13 speakers and speed sensitive volume provides unparalleled sound quality for any music genre. The air conditioning with triple zone climate control is just what you need in the hot, Mexican sun, alongside the cooled seating. The 7” screens in the headrests, coupled with the DVD player and the 10GB flash drive, will keep your rear passengers happy for long journeys. On top of that, the analogue clock on the central control panel is a really nice touch, and changes color during the transition between day and night.
While the satnav is extremely accurate, offering lane control and decent route suggestions, the absence of a zip code entry feature makes it extremely difficult to find your destination on the list. We tried many times to enter various street names and found it impossible to find 75% of our destinations so had to resort to our smartphones to do the job. This one small addition of zip code search could increase the performance of this device tenfold, but without it, it feels useless.
Even with its bulky, domineering body, the QX80 performs substantially well, creating a driving experience that you will not forget. The lush interiors and the slew of great features will keep you comfortable and entertained for hours, making it an ideal family vehicle for long trips. I only hope that the sat nav will be patched to receive a zipcode search feature, because that will greatly improve the feature. Regardless of that small issue, the QX80 represents a masterstroke by Infiniti, and will surely inspire other players in the SUV segment to sit up and take notice, hopefully resulting in a new standard of luxury, quality, and performance.
At a Glance
- Available as 2WD 4dr or 4WD 4dr
- MPG: 14 City / 20 Hwy
- HP: 400hp @ 5800rpm
- Engine: Premium Unleaded V-8 5.6 L/339
- Torque: 413 @ 4000rpm 5.6 L/339
- Air conditioning: Trizone climate control
- Wiper sensors
- Roof top: Panoramic electric.
- Wheels: Alloy.
- Cruise control: adaptive.
- System voice control for functions
- Video system: with 7 “”DVD player
- Bluetooth interface
- Bose 13-speaker system
Price (At time of review)